Touring Chatsworth House & Highclere Castle

In addition to touring Hill Top (Beatrix Potter's home) and Levens Hall (for that posting, click here), we toured Chatsworth House and Highclere Castle.

Chatsworth House (click here for more information) is one of the most impressive homes in the UK. It has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549. It was the filming location for Pemberly in the latest version of "Pride & Prejudice". And its park was landscaped by "Capability" Brown and is simply breathtaking! 

A few weeks before we toured Chatsworth House, a new exhibit of costumes and fashions had just opened. And while that was fascinating, it resulted in much of the house sort of being taken over by the exhibit, so I feel like I saw the exhibit, but had a difficult time looking past it to see the house itself. Additionally, many of the windows were shuttered or the curtains drawn, I presume to protect the textiles, so the house was very dark. But here is a glimpse at what caught my eye.

A beautiful John Singer Sargent painting, "Acheson Sisters", was on display.

 Remember this statue from "Pride & Prejudice"?

And in the gift shop, there was this bust with signage that made us chuckle.

The grounds are too beautiful to adequately describe. Statues and daffodils and fountains and grazing sheep and herds of deer and a cascading waterfall. It simply took my breath away!

By far, the favorite English country house that we toured was Highclere Castle, home to the Carnarvon family in real life, but otherwise known as Downton Abbey to the rest of us! (Click here for more information.) Highclere has a limited touring schedule, so booking our trip around a time that it was open for tours was a top priority for us. I booked the plane tickets and immediately purchased our Highclere tickets, and then I planned the rest of the trip around those dates. 

Why was it our favorite? After all those years of watching Downton Abbey, it seemed so real to us! And, unlike other homes that are SO grand that it would be difficult imagining them as anyone's actual home, Highclere is more intimate and home-like. And, because we've seen the Granthams "living" in Downton, it did seem like someone's home. 

Don't we look positively giddy to go inside? We were!

Photography is not allowed inside. And really, it isn't necessary, because if you've seen Downton Abbey, you've seen it. It looks just exactly as it does in the show. You do see some rooms on the tour that are not ever shown in the TV series. And the ones you do see seem slightly smaller in real life than you imagined them to be. Our favorite rooms were the library and the saloon (pronounced "salon").

The tour shows you the bedrooms of Lady Grantham, Lady Edith, Lady Sybil, and the room into which Mr. Pamuk's body was removed. The last is the grandest of the bedrooms on the tour, with its elegant, 19th century red silk damask walls. Just stunning! Colette was very much hoping to see Lady Mary's bedroom, but we learned that her room was always a set. 

We took plenty of time touring the extensive grounds, also designed by "Capability Brown". A pretty view of the house can be seen from all around.

For a great pub for lunch nearby to Highclere, click here and scroll down to read about the Yew Tree.

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